I can feel his spirit over the mountains in Arizona. I can imagine him in his perfect swimming pool and in his big high bed. I can feel his kisses and his long arms around me and I don’t know if I made the right decision not to love him.
There seems to be no choice in Love as it is just pure emotion. I still talk to him on the phone and we are like lovesick couples everywhere tho we are not together. Three days after I met him he said, “I know what this is. It’s love.”
“Oh no, it can’t be!” And I held up my fingers in a cross to ward it off. “Let’s call it like.”
“I want to say I love you.”
“How ’bout we say I don’t love you and we will know what we mean.”
So for the next two years we didn’t love each other. There was certainly lust. I hungered for him to acknowledge our relationship with his behavior. He was absorbed in his own life and could not compromise. He was in the process of closing his business and moving to Arizona and it was amazing to see his detailed preparations. He asked me to marry him and I refused. We were in a Mexican restaurant and looking back my life would have been so secure if I had said yes.
Fred had been in Vietnam just a few months when he got stuck in the jungle behind enemy lines. He had to shoot a pig to survive and he shot the farmer too. He stumbled out a month later and was sent to Korea. He was wandering around in an open market when an explosion blew up the bar where he was sitting. He was transferred to Washington DC and after rehab for his burned body he was given the duty of mowing the lawn. He was a warrior and felt degraded doing this new job. He lit the gas tank of the mower on fire and walked away.
After my last boyfriend has scared me with his PTSD, I went to a support group for friends of Vietnam Veterans. I thought I had found relief with this new fellow Fred.
“He’s perfect,” I told the group of ladies. “He cooks, has money, is handsome, sexy and drives a great car. He has two trucks and a wonderful house. He loves his daughters.”
That is PTSD too. In Fred’s case it was the trauma of growing up with an abusive father that changed him. It doesn’t manifest in drunken, homeless behavior every time. It can often show up as perfectionism.
Fred had been married four times. The first woman was a beauty and gave him two daughters. When they were courting they had been walking in a carnival fair grounds and a man had copped a feel on her. Fred had turned around and knocked him to the ground with one punch. A cop had seen the whole thing and told Fred he did a good job. The girl thought she had found her hero. But there were demons in Fred’s life that kept him from being really committed to a relationship and the biggest demon was his own father.
Fred’s father was a Cherokee. He had tormented Fred. He wanted him to be tough but the torture just made Fred crazy. When Fred had asked to go to a school game his dad told him he could go if he raked the leaves in the yard. Fred worked hard and the leaves were gone. But when his dad went to see he found one leaf left and told Fred he couldn’t go to the game. When Fred was tired of the thrashings and the abuse he had his mother sign a paper saying he was old enough to go into the military and he enlisted. He had been away from the home for a few years before that and had a nice new truck to show off to his father. That abusive, drunk, mean old man tormented Fred until he finally died but he will forever be in Fred’s mind. Fred knew that this is where is perfectionism comes from and it is a burden to him. However, it has also made him the fine man he is today: a sharp shooter who is a national champion and an instructor in small arms. His grandson wants him to teach him to shoot. I am so proud of him.
I tried to love Fred but filling a bottomless pit is impossible. We left each other a hundred times during the five year love affair. He had just left his fourth wife who was in the hospital with cancer. They were still friends. He visited her in the hospital, but it was over. He played Sade, “Love hurts like brand new shoes,” on his fantastic music system and the blue waves of lost love songs rang thru his living room. I had lost loves too and we both melted into each others arms for comfort.
Oh Fred, I miss you. So many alcoholic people have been thru my life and your only flaw was your perfectionism. But that was very difficult to live with. A perfect life is not something I meld with easily because I lived with my mother who is traumatized by her alcoholic father and WWII and copes with the horrors of reality by being a control freak and perfectionist. So it was hard for me to be with you. And yet we loved each other. We did. We loved somehow and someway. We dreamed of being together as a couple and we helped each other. I miss you tonight as I cope with another drunken lover. I wonder if you were the one I should have just stayed with and loved somehow because I can’t seem to find love in this world. There is too much damage in both of us.